The Best Rookies of the Spring, The James P. Dawson Award Winners (Part 5, 1975-1979)
by Paul Semendinger
March 3 , 2021
Of note – My research for this project took me to the wonderful site Baseball Almanac where I was able to access the list of all the James P. Dawson winners in Yankees history. I also used Baseball-Reference for the players’ statistics.
In 1956, the Yankees began awarding the James P. Dawson Award to the best rookie in Spring Training.
I began to wonder how many of these players went on to successful careers with the Yankees or other teams.
Here I continue my examination of that important award and the players who earned it.
James P. Dawson was a longtime Yankees’ reporter with the New York Times. He served as the Chairman of the New York Chapter of the BBWAA.
It was very difficult to find an image of the award itself and it seems there is no actual trophy. Rather, it seems that the player is given a watch. Here is an auction from 2013 that highlights Johnny James’ watch. This photo shows Masahiro Tanaka being presented with a watch as well. In 2018, Miguel Andujar tweeted this photo of him earning his watch. The cover image on our home page is cropped from this Tweet.
The 1975-1979 Award Winners
1975 – Tippy Martinez
Tippy was an excellent left-handed pitcher who was involved in one of the biggest (and most lopsided) trades in Yankees history when he was sent to the Baltimore Orioles, I have written about that trade numerous times including the following:
Tippy Martinez pitched for the Yankees from 1974 to 1976. As a Yankee, he went 3-2 with 10 saves and a 2.67 ERA in 44 games.
All-Time WAR = 8.6
1976 – Willie Randolph
No Yankee who ever won this award has ever gone on to a Hall of Fame career. (A few have come close, as we shall see…) Willie Randolph might yet still…
Randolph ranks by WAR as the 16th greatest second baseman in history. All above Randolph are in the Hall of Fame except Robinson Cano, Bobby Gritch, Chase Utley, and Lou Whitaker.
Willie was a 6-time All-Star.
On the All-Time Yankees boards, Randolph is: 8th (tie) in WAR, 2nd in dWAR, 10th in At Bats, 9th in Runs Scored, 6th in Walks, and 4th in Stolen Bases.
He was a Yankee great.
All-Time WAR – 65.9
1977 – George Zeber
Zeber played in all of 28 Major League games, all with the Yankees between 1977 and 1978. In 1977, in just 25 games, he hit .323.
He was a switch-hitter who played infield.
All-Time WAR = 0.3
1978 – Jim Beattie
Beattie, a right-handed pitcher was once famously sent to the minor leagues by George Steinbrenner after a terrible start (only the 11th in his career) agaisnt the Red Sox, actually had a better career than most remember.
In 1978, he pitched in 25 games to a 3.73 ERA.
In the 1978 post season, he won games against the Royals (ALCS) and the Dodgers (WS). Jim Beattie’s lifetime post season record is: 2-0, 1.88.
After the 1979 season, Jim Beattie was sent to Seattle as part of the trade for Ruppert Jones.
All-Time WAR = 14.8
1979 – Paul Mirabella
Mirabella pitched in only 10 games with the Yankees in 1979. He didn’t have much success (0-4, 8.79).
He came to the Yankees in the trade that brought them Dave Righetti (among others) and left in the trade that brought them Rick Cerone (among others).
Mirabella pitched for 13-years in the Major Leagues. He pitched in 298 games (making 33 starts). HIs lifetime record was 19-29, 4.45. He also had 13 saves.
All-Time WAR = 0.6